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CD Review: MY DYING BRIDE – Evinta

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"Evinta. A project almost 15 years in the making. An idea that has sat smoldering and never really had a reason to burn alive until now. 9 albums worth of darkness recreated anew to mark 20 years of MDB. Music arranged to the soundscapes of sorrows past. Finally the 20th anniversary allows us to release this music in a form it has been desperately, woefully waiting for. Enjoy the Darkness."

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How do you “celebrate” a career when all of your music resembles a funeral procession? Well, I suppose you could just make more music that resembles a funeral procession. But you could add a slight twist if you make a few adjustments. Maybe you will come up with something really special. For their 20th anniversary release, My Dying Bride has taken their characteristic melancholy doom metal and extracted the metal in favor of a double-album of dark, ambient music composed of melodies spanning the band’s career.

So as a disclaimer, this is not a doom metal album. If you’re looking for something more characteristic of their Death and Doom handiwork, you would be better off with As the Flower Withers, The Angel and the Dark River, or The Dreadful Hours. The mission here was to make a compilation of sounds and bring them into a reflective, thought-provoking aesthetic. As even a listen to only one song will confirm, My Dying Bride has succeeded brilliantly.

Disc one is distinctly sadder in its tone while disc two is notably more reflective and serene. I’d characterize disc one as perhaps more “black” while disc two strikes me as “gray”. The same themes bleed through both discs however, and the product is indeed a strong distillation of the mood captured in all of My Dying Bride’s music. Think about it this way, take the premise behind For My Fallen Angel (off of Like Gods of the Sun), and stretch it across an entire album.

At the very instant, In Your Dark Pavilion paints the mournful and sad picture with violins, organs, piano, and operatic guest vocals from French soprano Lucie Roche. In Your Dark Pavilion and You Are Not the One Who Loves Me fit perfectly together to create an atmosphere of bitterness and cold-faced regret, one which captured my attention very strongly. In fact, I was so arrested by this pairing that I could imagine them as the perfect score to a movie (a very, very sad movie). Imagine a graveyard in the valley of the Somme river in France in 1916, one solitary figure mourning over the whole massive sea of death, the camera slowly backing away enveloping the entire landscape. Ok so that’s a little more elaborate a description than you’d expect in a album review, but I’m surely not the only one who pictures possible scenes when listening to music.

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While I found Evinta to be an enjoyable listen, the album’s greatest strength is also its weakness. In their determination to be so “epic”, My Dying Bride risks sounding a little silly. Aaron’s romantic voiceovers are a bit much (“All great children build altars…I have no love to give you”- um…sure, that’s what I thought!), and there does come a point when you have to say: “I get the point! Can I smile about something now?” So perhaps the record is a little ridiculous and maybe the whole premise is a little pretentious, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to be too upset about it. There’s something charming about a band willing to go over the top. They do it so well and with such panache that I have to applaud them for it. Another possible weakness rests in its ambient and experimental nature. It’s not a typical album, so it lacks a lot of real standout tracks or memorable moments. The album is well-suited as background, but not always as something to be actively engaged in.

Whether or not you enjoy Evinta depends on what you're looking for. Dedicated fans will consider this essential to their collection, while others may be turned off by the absence of guitars and of easily accessible song structures. If you appreciate rich, evocative music of any stripe, than I'm sure you will enjoy this as much as I have.


Favorite songs: In Your Dark Pavilion, You Are Not the One Who Loves Me, Vanit Triomphante

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